CLI LAND CAPABILITY OF THE ST. JOHN'S MAP SHEET AREA, 1N
The Canada Land Inventory provides one of the most comprehensive digital map source for resource planning and management in Canada. The area covered by the CLI is indicated in the index map. For each of the map sheets areas land capability is mapped at 1:250'000 scale and usually at a 1:50'000 scale. This is an example for Map sheet 1N St.John's, Newfoundland. The index map on the right shows the areas mapped for land capability under the CLI. The left image shows an example of a number of overlays displayed on Google Earth.
Each of the 1.250'000 scale maps has an extensive description of the landscape ecosystem and capability perspectives. Below is an example for the St.John's map area.
Table of Contents
The area covered by the St. John's map sheet lies at the eastern end of the Island of Newfoundland and includes most of the Avalon Peninsula. The irregular coastline is deeply indented by four large bays, Trinity, Conception, Placentia, and St. Mary's, and numerous smaller bays and cover. The interior of the Peninsula consists of a rolling plateau, 300 to 700 feet above sea level. Isolated hills rise above this elevation; the highest point is Centre Hill, which is located west of Trinity Bay, and has an elevation of 1133 feet.
Most of the area is underlain by late Precambrian sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks. A granitic batholith, which has intruded into Precambrian volcanic rock, occurs east of Holyrood. Small regions of Cambrian sediments occur southeast of Conception Bay and south of Trinity Bay. The entire land surface was glaciated during the Pleistocene Period and much of the area is covered by shallow till. Bedrock outcrops are common, especially on the hills. Northeast of St. Mary's Bay there is an extensive region of end moraine deposits. The soils are generally stony, acidic, HumoFerric Podzols of medium to coarse texture. Peat bogs are common, especially in the southwestern part of the area. Short, usually swift streams drain the many small lakes and ponds.
The area has a maritime climate, characterized by mild winters and cool summers.
Mean January temperatures are 200 F to 250F, whereas mean July temperatures
are 550 F to 600 F. Springs are late because of the ice-laden Labrador
Current. At St. John's, the frost-free period averages 130 days and
the growing season (mean daily temperature above 430F) averages 160
days. The annual precipitation is about 54 inches, which includes 80
to 120 inches of snow. About half of the midwinter precipitation falls
as rain. The mean annual potential evapotranspiration is 19 inches.
Coastal fog is common, especially in spring and summer. The mean annual
wind speed is 15.7 mph at St. John's.
The area is in the Avalon Section of the Boreal Forest Region. On the Avalon Peninsula, trees are seldom more than 40 feet high. Balsam fir is the most important tree species, and often occurs in pure stands. Black spruce is generally confined to poorly drained sites, such as bog borders, or excessively drained sites. White birch usually occurs in association with balsam fir on nutrient-rich sites in sheltered locations. White spruce, yellow birch, and tamarack are scattered throughout the area. Some of the land surface is well forested, especially the end moraine of the central Avalon Peninsula between St. Mary's and Trinity bays. However, more than half the area is barren or supports only scrub timber. The extensive heath barrens of the Avalon Peninsula probably resulted from repeated fires and subsequent invasion by dwarf shrubs.
Virtually all the waterways are well stocked with brook trout and some with rainbowtrout. German brown trout and Atlantic salmon are common as both landlocked and sea-run forms. Bluefin tuna fishing is excellent in Conception Bay and sea fishing with rod or jigger is becoming popular throughout the area. The upland contains some of the best habitats for Willow Ptarmigan and woodland caribou in the Province. The bird islands of Witless Bay, south of St. John's support spectacular breeding colonies of several species. The vast shoals of caplin that roll ashore to spawn in the early summer help support these seabird colonies and are extensively gathered for food and fertilizer by residents.
Newfoundland was known to the Vikings, but was officially discovered by John Cabot in 1497. It became Britain's first colony in 1583 and after progressing through various kinds of status, it joined Canada in 1949 as the tenth province.
Settlement and use of the Avalon Peninsula during the last four and one half centuries have been strongly influenced by the fishery of the nearby Grand Banks of Newfoundland. These rich waters have been fished since the early sixteenth century by many European countries. Although fishermen from the British Isles dominated this area throughout its history, many prominent coastal landmarks have names of Portuguese, French, or Spanish origin and to this day Portuguese and other fleets return to fish. Despite British banns on permanent settlement, early communities were built along the coast close to the fishing grounds and isolated to avoid official persecution; these habitation patterns remain to this day. Fishing is still the core of the economy of the area.
Most of the industrial development of the area is concentrated in and around St. John's the capital city of the Province. The agricultural use of the land on the Avalon Peninsula is not extensive.
The soils on the Avalon Peninsula developed predominantly on parent material deposited by glaciers. Glaciation may have had its source in Labrador during the early Wisconsin period of the Pleistocene epoch, commonly called the ice age. Ice covered Newfoundland, and moved farther south and east to deposit glacial drift as far as the Grand Banks in the Atlantic Ocean.
A subsidiary ice cap seems to have occupied the Avalon Peninsula during some phase of deglaciation. This ice flowed westward into Placentia Bay, northward into Trinity and Conception bays, and eastward across hills as high as 1000 feet to reach the Atlantic Ocean. In the later part of the Wisconsin glacial period, ice from the main island and from northern parts of the Peninsula began to retreat before the ice from the St. Mary's Bay region receded. End moraines were then deposited mainly in the central part of the Peninsula north and east of St. Mary's Bay. A thin layer of silt covers some of these moraines south of Whitbourne where water was trapped briefly between lobes of the retreating glacier. Mini Podzols developed on well-drained locations in this region. The soils have a silty loam texture and exhibit only a very thin leached horizon; they are rated Class 4 on gently rolling topography. Gleysolic soils with Class 6 capability occur on some lower slopes, whereas medium to well-decomposed organic soils, which are 2 to 12 feet deep, occupy the depressions between hills.
Glacial till, the heterogenous material deposited directly from glacial ice, is common on the Peninsula, except for a few riverbeds and beach ridges that generally consist of recently deposited, fairly coarse textured Regosols; this site type is rated Class 5 to 7, depending on drainage conditions.
Soils near the west, south, and southeast coast generally developed on medium to coarse glacial till. The coastal soils have a peaty surface up to two feet thick. Generally, these peaty Gleyed or Placic Ferro-Humic Podzols are imperfectly to poorly drained with an accumulation of organic matter under a gray leached horizon and a thin iron pan of varying depths. These soils are generally stony and have been rated Class 6 or 7. Extensive regions of organic soils from 2 to 6 feet thick and composed of fibrous to semi-decomposed peat are common.
Generally, farther inland and also near the northern shores, Gleyed Ferro-Humic Podzols are found. They are imperfectly drained soils with thinner surface peat, and less accumulation of organic material under a gray leached horizon; they are rated Classes 5 and 6 and are not limited by stoniness. Well-drained Podzols are rated Class 5 where stones are not a limitation.
In many coastal regions, near settlements, and north and south of the city of St. John's, stones are not a serious limitation. These Podzol soils are low in fertility, but with the aid of fertilizers they can produce excellent root and forage crops; hence, these sites are rated Class 4 to 5. Large regions in the interior of the Peninsula are covered by Podzols developed on coarse stony glacial till with boulders or rock outcrops; these sites are rated Class
Organic soils are very extensive in the southwest, but decrease in importance toward the northeast. Organic soils are not classified for their agricultural capability. Rock outcrops and excessively stony soils with Class 7 capability occupy extensive regions west of Trinity Bay, between Trinity and Conception bays, at the northeastern tip of the Peninsula, and between St. Mary's Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The Podzol soils on the eastern half of Bell Island and near the southeastern shore of Conception Bay contain more clay and fewer stones. These soils are more productive here than on most sites and are rated Classes 3 and 4. Mini Podzols, which have developed on till derived from shale with limestone and manganese beds, occur on small sites south of Trinity Bay. Topography may be a limitation and the site rating is Class 5 to 6.
Moose (Alces alces) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) occur in the area. Moose are most common in forested regions but occur throughout the area, even on the barrens. Scrubby, wind-pruned trees (tuckamore) occur in patches throughout the barrens and provide browse for moose. Caribou use mainly the barrens of the central part of the Peninsula, but they sometimes range west as far as the Salmonier River, north to the Trans-Canada Highway, east to the coast, and south into the Trepassey area.
The capability for moose is low to moderate. The best moose habitat occurs in the forests between Trinity and St. Mary's bays and has been rated Class 3. The main limitations in this region are exposure, fertility, and excessive moisture (poor drainage). Balsam fir and white birch provide the main food for moose.
Capability for caribou is high to moderate throughout most of the area. In the extreme south, there are some small regions of Class 1 habitat, but Class 2 and 3 sites are most common. Caribou use such foods as lichens, shrubs (both evergreen and deciduous), sedges (Carex spp.) end grasses. The presence of tuckamore reduces capability slightly in some regions. Controlled burning is a feasible management practice, however, and these regions will usually revert to subclimax heath barren, which has a high capability. Snow depth limits the use of some regions in winter but does not significantly reduce capability of the area. Frequent midwinter thaws, rains, and high winds keep most exposed regions free from snow. Snow accumulation In the forest and tuckamore regions however, prevents caribou from reaching the browse species. This restricts caribou to the barrens and bogs during the winter. If snow accumulation is very heavy, the caribou usually move southward to the relatively snow-free barrens of the southem part of the Avalon Peninsula.
Capability classification and descriptive narrative by W. E. Mercer, O. W. Forsey, J. Folinsbee, D. A. Kitchen, H. R. Fry W. J. Greene, and A. St. George, Department of Mines Agriculture and Resources St. John's Newfoundland.
Much of the forest of the area has been destroyed or significantly reduced by fire and cultural practices. The present forest consists of dense patches of conifers. Merchantable timber seldom extends above 500 feet above sea level.
North of a line from Dunville to Chapel Arm and south of Holyrood along the Hawke Hills the topography is hilly. Tree cover is generally very open or nonexistent because of wind exposure and bedrock outcrops. The rolling inland plateaus south of the Hawke Hills and west of St. Mary's Bay, support extensive heath and peat barrens Parts of these barrens were once probably forested. However, because of the accumulation of a thick raw humus layer on all but the very wet and very dry sites, natural reforestation is unlikely.
The most extensive and important forests on the Avalon Peninsula occur on the end moraine north of St. Mary's Bay. Because of the prevailing southwestly winds, the northern and northeastern slopes of this hummocky region support better tree growth than the southern and southwestern slopes. The shallow ground moraine in the western and southern parts of the Bay de Verde Peninsula in the vicinity of St. John's, and along the coast south of St. John's supports the only other important forests of the Avalon Peninsula.
Forestry capability throughout the Avalon Peninsula is mainly determined by the severity of wind exposure (U), which is a limitation to almost all sites. Class 4 units are the most productive sites and are confined to deeper tills on sheltered river valley slopes. Low fertility (F) is the main limitation.
Class 5 sites are scattered throughout the area, in sheltered locations on moderate to deep tills. The main limitations are low water-holding capacity of the soil (M) and low fertility. Similar (but less sheltered) sites have been rated Class 6, with exposure as the main limitation.
Peat bogs are limited by low fertility and excessive moisture ON) and have been rated Class 7. Permanent heath barrens have been rated Class 7L: or, when associated with peat bogs, Class 7Y. Heath barrens that may have once supported a merchantable forest were rated Class 7: or Class 7, with a moisture (X) limitation Complex units in which the main limitation is wind exposure were rated Class 7U.
Because of the intermittent snow cover that occurs during the winter, attempts to artificially regenerate regions on the Avalon Peninsula will be hampered by severe frost heaving. Ice storms damage the forests periodically, especially those in the vicinity of the isthmus.
Capability classification by B. Delaney, Department of Mines, Agriculture and Resources, St. JohnS, Newfoundland. Descriptive narrative by K. Beanlands and B. Delaney. Department of Mines, Agriculture and Resources, St. John's Newfoundland.
The area has innumerable ponds and lakes with good stocks of brook trout and landlocked salmon. Trout fishing is a very popular family pursuit. There are also at least 13 salmon rivers in the area. The potential for cod jigging and sea angling could be more fully developed.
An extensive mixture of attractive uplands and shorelands adds to the Avalon's appeal to the angler, hunter, picnicker, photographer, hiker, naturalist, and camper. Semiprecious stones and fossils may be collected at several locations. The trilobite deposits on Manuels River are of particular interest. Collecting wild berries in the late summer and fall is a favorite outdoor activity on the barrens and bogs.
Interesting settlements are plentiful, especially along the southern shore and around Conception Bay; wrecked ships, historic buildings, and old fortifications may still be seen. Places of particular historical interest include Ferryland, Brigus, Cupids, Harbour Grace, Placentia, and St. John's. In addition to its historical significance, Cape Spear is unique as the most easterly point of North America.
Cold water and excessive winds along the coasts discourage sea swimming and restrict family boating. Cobble beaches are plentiful, however, and on calm, sunny days or in sheltered coves some sun bathing is enjoyed. Although the water in many of the larger inland lakes remains cool, there are innumerable ponds and smaller lakes where water temperatures rise sufficiently for bathing. With such diversity of lakes and ponds, the interior of the Avalon Peninsula offers unlimited scope for the use of small boats. These same lakes and ponds provide recreation in winter in the form of ice fishing and, in some places, ice skating. Despite the fluctuating temperatures, inland snow cover supports a normally long season for cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and motor tobogganing.
Other favorite outdoor activities in this area are hunting for ptarmigan and snowshoe hare, driving for pleasure, weekend cottaging, and camping. The use of the J symbol on the uplands indicates the gathering of edible berries; the use of the z feature in most instances means a lighthouse of significance. The z on Rocky River near Colinet and Lac Manche denotes fish ladders and on Cataract Brook to the west of Colinet it denotes a walkway, which has been built down the rock face near the falls. The historic city of St. John's and its scenic harbor represent one of the most outstanding attractions in the area.
Capability classification and narrative by K. Apt, B.
S. Jackson, S. King, and D. O'Brien.